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The Essential Wrapped in Plastic: Pathways to Twin Peaks by John Thorne

December 9, 2018

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Wrapped In Plastic was the authoritative (if not official) fanzine of Twin Peaks for thirteen years during and after the show and the follow-up movie, Fire Walk With Me. Here, Thorne, one of the co-editors, reworks and reorganizes some of the zine’s most important content.

The anchor of this book is an episode guide that includes a synopsis, analysis, cast and crew interviews, and deleted scenes for each of the original 29 episodes. It’s a great companion to the show, particularly if you’re re-watching and reading along episode by episode, as I was. Thorne focuses on the more important episodes, but gives adequate and fair treatment to some of the infamously bad Season 2 episodes as well, often noting with levity how terrible some of the moments are.

The most interesting essay is Thorne’s “Half the Man He Used to Be: Dale Cooper and the Red Room,” an in-depth analysis of the convoluted series finale. To the casual viewer, Episode 29 contains a long, confusing sequence of Cooper running back and forth in the Red Room, encountering bizarre, dreamlike images. It’s easy to write it off as just “Lynch being Lynch,” a montage of strange imagery that eventually ends with Cooper being chased by a second Cooper.

But as Thorne breaks this scene down shot by shot, he reveals that the narrative is actually very precise and coherent. It clearly shows the division of Agent Cooper into two halves, caused by his failing to face the Red Room with full courage.  Understanding this moment is critical, as it sets up the basis for the entire of the third season.

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Of the essays on Fire Walk With Me, two stand out. “Dreams of Deer Meadow” lays out a fairly convincing theory that the long Deer Meadow prologue in FWWM is actually a dream of Dale Cooper, therefore making the case that Cooper is not the minor character people often assume him to be in the movie. And “The Realization of Laura Palmer” posits that the film recasts Laura from victim to hero, elevating her from the ghostly presence of the show and making her an actual protagonist—an ultimately successful one. Both are fascinating reads.

Like the other books from my recent Twin Peaks obsession, this is a deep cut, only of interest to fanatics. But it holds some of the best material to help unravel the mysteries of the show. And although it doesn’t address Twin Peaks: The Return, it’s a must-read for anyone trying to find their way through that labyrinth.

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